Svenska/Swedish English Français/French Deutsch/German   Русский/Russian

Golden Ring of Russia

Moscow – Sergiev Possad – Pereslavl Zalessky – Rostov – Yaroslavl – Kostroma – Plios – Suzdal - Vladimir - Moscow

Travel Russia and witness to the most important events in Russian history, the Golden Ring is an ensemble of historical cities situated around Moscow and forming a ring to the northeast of the Russian capital. The ring is so named thanks to the golden color of the onion-shaped domes on the hundreds of churches and monasteries scattered throughout the region, which boasts the most rich and important artistic heritage in the country. An intersection of continents and cultures and furrowed by long rivers such as the Volga, trade between East and West enriched the Golden Ring cities. It was here that Russia was born as a nation, and it was here that the invasions of Mongols, Attars, Poles, and Lithuanians took place, identity-building conflicts from which Russia in the end always emerged victorious. Discovering the Golden Ring and its beautiful towns far from the agitation of the big capitals is to delve deeply into Russia and its Slavic soul.

Please note, the itinerary below is our standard tour and it can be adjusted to meet your requirements.

Highlights
  • Sergiev Posad - one of the most important centers of Russian Orthodoxy
  • Rostov Veliky - known as the “stone symphony”, is a charming medieval town whose countless domes are reflected in the water of Nero Lake. It is one of the most ancient Russian cities
  • Moscow - capital of Russia and home for many old Orthodox Churches
Options before the trip
Day / City

Itinerary

Day 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arrival in Moscow

  • Arrival to Moscow
  • Panoramic tour of Moscow: he ideal way to get in touch with the city, including its historical center and major monuments. We will stroll along the broad avenues, making our way though famous Tverskaya Street to the top of Sparrow Hills, under the imposing stare of Lomonossov University, one of the Stalin-era skyscrapers scattered throughout the city. From there we will admire an impressive panorama of the city, followed by a stop at Victory Park and another in front of Novodevichy Convent and its lake, the inspiration for Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. We will approach the historical center from the banks of the Moskva River, coming out near the White House, location of the siege of the Russian Government. We will also stop at Arbat Street, a busy pedestrian thoroughfare nicknamed the “Moscow Montmartre” because of the artist that used to live in the area and the painters that nowadays populate the street. We will pass in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the Parliament Building (Duma), Bolshoi Theatre, and the imposing facade of Lubyanka, headquarters of the KGB.
  • Exterior visit to Novodevichy Convent: Novodevichy Monastery, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, is one of the most beautiful monasteries in all of Russia and is situated in the southwest of the capital on a meadow next to the Moskva River.
  • Walking tour of the historical center: We will begin our tour on Manege Square, the site of the imperial stables as well as an ancient livestock fair. We will pass by Russia’s “Kilometer Zero” and continue our walk, admiring as we go the Art-Nouveau facades of the luxurious National and Metropol hotels as well as the Parliament Building (Duma). We will stroll through the alleyways of the ancient merchant district of Kitai-Gorod, home for numerous small churches, including the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan and the Cathedral of the Epiphany. We will also stop at GUM, the famous historical galleries which have been transformed into a veritable temple of luxury, and afterwards continue our walk at Red Square, included in the UNESCO World Heritage list and undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in the world. It was named Red, or “Krasnaya” in Russian, which in Old Russian was a synonym of “beautiful.” Now the square is surrounded by the famous State Historical MuseumKremlin, and St. Basil’s Cathedral with its fabulous onion domes, built by order of Ivan the Terrible. Red Square is also home to Lenin’s Mausoleum, and additionally features parades by the Russian Army on various holidays throughout the year. We will walk along the Kremlin walls, visiting Alexander Garden, the most ancient in Moscow and home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with its eternal flame.
  • Free time for lunch
  • Visit to Saint Basil’s Cathedral: This piece of architecture is considered one of the primary symbols of Moscow. The whole group is carefully laid out: it has the form of a Greek cross constituted by a central church and four chapels set at the four cardinal points, between which there are four other, smaller chapels. Its central church, which is 57 meters high, is surmounted by a tent-shaped roof, while the others brandish spectacular onion-shaped domes crowned by large gilded crosses. The Cathedral was constructed by order of Ivan the Terrible between 1555 and 1561 to memorialize his victories over the Golden Horde. 
  • Visit to the Moscow metro: Opened on May 15, 1935, by the Soviet government as a symbol of the technological and industrial prowess of the political system, the Moscow metro was considered to be the “People’s Palace.” The most important artists of the period took part in its decoration, and materials were brought from all corners of the country, representing the union of the Soviet people. 

Hotel in Moscow:  

  • 3* Ibis, Arbat or similar
  • 4* Marriott Tverskaya, Holiday Inn Lesnaya, or similar

Day 2

 

 

 

 

 

Moscow

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Visit to the Kremlin and its cathedrals: The word “Kremlin” in Russian means fortress, and in early Rus every important town had a fortress encircled by a wall where the main buildings, churches, and cathedrals were located and protected. The Moscow fortress, the cradle of the city, is the main fortress in the country and has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Built in the 12th century, it took the form we know today in the 15th century.
  • Free time for lunch
  • Visit to the Tretyakov Gallery: This unrivalled gallery was named after its founder, the famous trader Pavel Tretyakov (1832-1898), a major sponsor of 19th century Russian art. Today the Gallery is an impressive museum featuring more than 130000 works of art created by Russian artists, an overall historical narrative of Russian painting from the 11th century until the present. Its treasure is its collection of icons, while among its best known pieces are the Byzantine “Virgin of Vladimir”, attributed to St. Luke according to the legend, and the masterpiece of Andrei Roublev called the “Trinity”.
  • Visit to Zamoskvorechye: This charming corner of busy Moscow is hidden south of the Kremlin, across the Moskva River. It’s a quartier different from others in the city, one where we can still admire traditional Russian houses.  Each street even has its own church, defying the communist regime, when most churches in Moscow were destroyed. On the other side of the river lived the authorities and nobility, while this was home for handcrafters and merchants beginning in the 18th century. During the 19th century, artists, architects, and writers travelled to Zamoskvorechye and this quartier to bask in its creativity and dynamism. We will appreciate the elegant facades, the little churches, and the beautiful palaces from the 18th and 19th centuries, all set in a calm, picturesque atmosphere
  • Visit to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour:  This imposing cathedral is quite simply the biggest Orthodox church ever built. A symbol of the Russian victory against Napoleon, its construction was finished in 1883, coinciding with the coronation of Alexander III. Its style tends toward the neo-classic side despite its neo-byzantine plans, with the interior decoration made mostly out of Carrara marble, displaying vivid paintings of the battles between Russian and Napoleonic troops. In 1931 Stalin ordered the cathedral blown up in order to build the largest sky-scraper in the world, the Soviet Palace, though the project was quickly abandoned because of flooding from the Moskva River, and so the largest swimming pool in the world was eventually constructed in the hole that was left. After the fall of the Communist regime, the Cathedral was rebuilt according to the original plans. Its inauguration took place in 2000, along with the canonization of the last tsar and its family, killed during the Bolshevik revolution.

Hotel in Moscow:  

  • 3* Ibis, Arbat or similar
  • 4* Marriott Tverskaya, Holiday Inn Lesnaya, or similar

Day 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moscow – Sergiev Possad – Pereslavl Zalessky – Rostov – Yaroslavl

 

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Drive to located about 70 kilometers to the north from Moscow Sergiyev Posad
  • Excursion to Sergiyev Posad and visit to its monastery:  Sergiev Posad (formerly known as Zagorsk) is one of the most important centers of Russian Orthodoxy. Its construction was begun by St. Sergius, who established a monastery-fortress there in 1340 that would over the course of the centuries become one of the most important spiritual centers in Russia. There you will see the characteristic elements of the military architecture of the 15th-18th centuries, the period of its development. Nowadays, the Monastery of the Holy Trinity and St. Sergius is still operational and is home to a seminary, the Technological Institute, the Pilgrimage Centre, and the residence of His Holiness the Patriarch of All Russia, thanks to which the city picked up its nickname as the “Russian Vatican.” Among its numerous churches and cathedrals, the most notable and significant are the Cathedral of the Assumption with its blue domes and the Cathedral of Dormition. It houses the tomb of Boris Godunov and his family as well as a copy of Andrei Roublev’s famous icon of the Trinity, the original of which is in the Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow. Sergiev Posad has been designated by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site
  • Drive to Pereslavl-Zalessky
  • Panoramic tour of Pereslavl-Zalessky: This ancient city of the Golden Ring, located on the bank of Pleshcheyevo Lake between Moscow and Yaroslavl, was founded in 1152 by Prince Yuri Dolgoruky. This historical figure, also the founder of Moscow and other Golden Ring cities, moved the capital of Russia from Kiev to this region. The city soon grew in importance due to its strategic location and was a cradle to numerous key figures in Russian history, such as Alexander Nevsky, who was born in Pereslavl-Zalessky, and Peter the Great, who spent a large part of his childhood here. It was on Pleshcheyevo Lake where Peter the Great constructed a scale model of what would later become the first Russian fleet. The city is very impressive, both for its natural scenery and its architecture: beautiful wooden houses near the lake that attract numerous painters and artists, an ancient fortress located at the top of the hill, and numerous monasteries. We will admire the Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, established concurrently with the founding of the city, as well as some of the numerous monasteries dating back to the 11th century: the Troitse-DanilovNikitskyFeodorovsky, and Goritsky monasteries.
  • Free time for lunch
  • Drive to Rostov Veliky
  • Panoramic tour of Rostov Veliky: Rostov, known as the “stone symphony”, is a charming medieval town whose countless domes are reflected in the water of Nero Lake. It is one of the most ancient Russian cities, having been founded by the Meryans, a Finnish tribe, and it reached its peak between the 11th and the 13th centuries as a main trade hub along the Volga basin. It is one of the cities of the Golden Ring and an official candidate for inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage List thanks to its numerous and fascinating churches and monasteries, along with its fabulous kremlin, considered second only to the Moscow Kremlin in all of Russia. The city is a true architectural gem. In its center we will find the Zachatyevsky Cathedral, whose stunning interiors were decorated with frescoes by 17th century Yaroslavl masters, and the Church of St. Isidore the Blessed, built in 1565. The most important sights are situated next to beautiful Nero Lake, including the Spasso-Yakovlevsky Monastery, dated 1688; neoclassical Dmitriev Cathedral; and the nearby Church of Our Saviour on the Sands. At the city’s other extreme, though still on the banks of the lake, lies the Abraham Monastery, one of the oldest in Russia. It is home to the Epiphany Cathedral, built by Ivan the Terrible in 1553 to celebrate his victory over the Tartars in Kazan. Between the two monasteries stands the majestic Kremlin.
  • Visit to the Rostov Veliky Kremlin: Considered to be the most beautiful in Russia excepting only the Moscow Kremlin, it is protected by high walls and fortified with 11 towers. The kremlin is made up of three parts: Cathedral Square, the Bishop’s Court, and the Metropolitan Garden. In Cathedral Square we will bask in the imposingCathedral of the Assumption, built between the 12th and the 16th centuries. Its steeple is the most famous in Russia, and each of its 15 bells boasts its own name. The biggest of them weighs 32 tons and required a second parallel tower to support it. Numerous unsurpassingly beautiful buildings stretch between the kremlin and the lake, among which  the Church of Saint-Ioan the Theologian is particularly attention-grabbing. The kremlin of Rostov Veliky is a deserved candidate for the UNESCO World Heritage list
  • Drive to Yaroslavl

Hotel in Yaroslavl:

  • 3* Yubileinaya
  • 4* Ring Premier
Day 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yaroslavl Kostroma Plios Suzdal

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Panoramic tour of Yaroslavl: We will see the city center laid out according to the urban plan and developed throughout the 18th and 19th centuries: here are the Gostinny Dvor main commercial galleries (1818), the Governmental Offices building (1785), Vakromeyev House, the State University - formerly the House of Charity (1786) – and the Fire Department, occupying a 1911 Jugendstil building. We will also encounter Volkov Theatre, the oldest founded in Russia (1750), though the actual building dates back only to 1911, along with many neoclassical private residences, administrative buildings, and the promenade by the Volga River. The kremlin was located at the fork where the Volga and Kotorosl rivers meet, called the Strelka, until it burned down in 1658. On its location, dominating both rivers, was erected the magnificent Dormition Cathedral, demolished by the Soviets in 1937 and restored and reopened in 2010 to celebrate the city’s millenary. The beautiful Epiphany Church with its 5 domes is also laid out nearby, an excellent example of a medieval Russian church. The Church of St. John the Baptist is one of the best models of a “Yaroslavl style” church, with its exterior coated in richly glazed tiles. We will then admire the main jewels of Yaroslavl: the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour and the Church of Elijah the Prophet.
  • Visit to the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour: on the banks of the Volga, built as a kremlin, or fortress, to protect the city with its high white walls and towers. Within those walls is the remarkable Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Saviour (1516), the city’s most ancient building, along with other churches, belfries, and dungeons. From this monastery the Russian peasant armies marched out to liberate Moscow from the Polish armies and from here also in 1613 Mikhail I set off for Moscow to be crowned the first tsar of the Romanov dynasty.
  • Visit to the Church of Elijah the Prophet: The church presently standing was built in 1650. This characteristic muscovite-style church has a simple exterior, while visitors are immediately struck by its richness immediately after walking through its doors: its walls and ceilings are overlaid with the most magnificent frescoes in the Golden Ring, painted at the end of the 17th century by 15 Yaroslavl and Kostroma masters. They depict vivid scenes from the daily life of the time in addition to some Old Testament references.
  • Free time for lunch
  • Drive to Kostroma
  • Panoramic tour of Kostroma: We will discover Catherine the Great’s urban plan, one which, according to legend, mirrors the shape of a fan she threw on the city map in order to describe her idea of a radial design for its streets. The streets spread out from a hub on the banks of the Volga, or what is today Susanin Square. The square features some of the main city sights, such as the Fire Tower, built in 1827; the Guard House; the Palace of General Borshov(1824); the Drama Theatre (1863); and the Monument to Mikhail Romanov. The area is also home to the famous“Merchant Galleries”, or “Trade Rows”, their neoclassical style dating back to 1786. They were built to concentrate city trade, streamlining work for traders and simplifying life for tax collectors. Each was constructed with a ground floor for trading and an upper floor for storage, with each dedicated to a corporation or even specific product: the Flower Gallery, milk, tobacco, oil, fish, sweets, etc. The Epiphany Monastery, on the other hand, is a haven of peace, and behind its strong walls and massive towers monastic life continues even nowadays unperturbed. Inside its Epiphany Cathedral, the oldest stone building in Kostroma, is the 10th century byzantine icon of St. Theodora Virgin, believed to be miraculous. The Church of the Resurrection on the Forests (on Debre) served as a vegetable storage facility under the Soviet regime, though it was subsequently restored.
  • Rrive to Plios
  • Panoramic walking tour around Plyos: This small, charming town is located in the so-called “Switzerland of the Volga.” Founded in the 12th century, its peaceful atmosphere, pretty landscapes, and the majestic Volga running between the hills have drawn numerous painters in search of inspiration, including Repin, Shaliapin, Vassiliev, and Savrassov. Undoubtedly, the town’s most devoted visitor was Levitan, whose best work was painted in his small house on the banks of the Volga. That house has been turned into a museum dedicated to his work here and, along with the many churches scattered around the town, can be easily discovered simply by strolling along the cobbled streets. During our short walk we will be able to see most of the main sights of this beautiful town on the Volga River, including some well-known architectural masterpieces such as the Church of the Resurrection of Christ (1817), Trinity Church (1808), Vedenskaya Church (1828), the charming wooden Resurrection Church (1699), and the mainAssumption Cathedral (1699).
  • Drive to Suzdal

Hotel in Sizdal:

  • 3* Pushkarskaya Sloboda – section 3*
  • 4* Pushkarskaya Sloboda – section 4*

Day 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suzdal Vladimir Moscow

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Panoramic tour of Suzdal: The town of Suzdal is unusual in its layout and urban plan: its buildings are scattered across a beautiful landscape of hills, fields, streams, and ponds, all along the Kamenka River. We will tour the town in an effort to grasp the full scope of its artistic heritage and take in its most significant sites: the kremlin, the Saviour Monastery of St. Euthimius, and the Convent of the Intercession. We will also see the intriguing architecture of the St. Alexander Convent (1240), and also the Trade Row, or Merchant’s Court, and the monasteries of St. Basil and the Deposition. One interesting feature we will notice throughout our tour is that most of Suzdal’s churches were built in pairs.
  • Visit to the Suzdal Kremlin: As is true of all Russian kremlins, this 11th century fortress was the religious, civil and military center of the town, the place where the most important buildings were built, and where they sheltered within the safety of its earthen walls. It is still the heart of the city and the place where most of its main monuments are located, perched at the top of a small hill from which we will enjoy a splendid view of Suzdal. Inside the kremlin the most prominent sight is the Cathedral of the Nativity, with its Golden Gates dating back to the 13th century, five beautiful domes, and stunningly beautiful wall frescoes. Next to it we will find the Archers Gallery and the Cross chamber, both in the 15th century Archbishop Palace. The small, elegant wooden Church of St. Nicholas, built in 1766 near Suzdal, was transferred here from its original location, and contrasting it with the neighboring, partially wooden Church of St. John the Baptist, built in 1720, yields an interesting study in architectural differences
  • Drive to Kideksha
  • Visit to Kideksha: This little village is situated near Suzdal at the intersection of the Nerl and Kamenka rivers. Founded in the 12th century, it was a fortified town and an important trade junction until its destruction by the Mongols. ItsChurch of Boris and Gleb, erected by order of Yuri Dolgoruky in 1152, is the oldest built using white limestone in Russia and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. According to legend, the martyrs Boris and Gleb, the first saints of the Russian Orthodox Church, stopped here on their way to Kiev.
  • Drive to Bogolyubovo
  • Visit to Bogolyubovo: Situated on the outskirts of Vladimir, Bogolyubovo means “loved by God” in Russian. In 1158 Prince Bogolyubsky of Vladimir saw a vision of the Virgin Mary near the city of Vladimir at the mouth of the rivers Nerl and Klyazma. He immediately ordered the construction in that very place of the Church of the Intervention on the Nerl along with a small fortified city around it, the origin of the present village. Both were completed by 1165. We will be able to see the ruins of Prince Bogolyubsky’s castle with its Staircase Tower and Church of the Nativity of the Virgin, built in the 17th century. These monuments are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Free time for lunch
  • Drive to Vladimir
  • Panoramic tour of Vladimir: The cradle of Russia and, along with neighboring Suzdal, origin of its history, Vladimir boasts a rich architectural heritage. It has been inhabited since at least the Palaeolithic Age: the settlement of Sungir is 25000 years old. The present city of Vladimir was founded in 1108 by  Prince Vladimir Monomachos of Kiev, but modern research dates its foundation back to 990, by Vladimir the Great, father of Russian Orthodoxy. Its significance peaked under Prince Andrey Bogolyubsky, who made Vladimir the capital of the Vladimir-Suzdal principality and therefore the most important city in Russia from 1157 until the Mongol invasion in 1238. From that point it began to slowly fade, relinquishing power to Moscow. Still, it remained the see of the Russian Orthodox Church until 1325, and until 1432 the grand princes of Russia were crowned in Vladimir. The city’s decline, on the other hand, has contributed to the preservation of its medieval monuments and, in part due to that fact, Vladimir, one of the cities of the Golden Ring, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most of the main monuments in Vladimir were built by both Russian and foreign architects and masters during the city’s glory days. We will tour the center to discover its most interesting sites, including the Golden Gate. It was erected in 1158 as the main entrance to the city, forming part of its 12th century walls. The Gate was covered in gold plates, complete with a small church dedicated to the Deposition of the Holy Robe on its top.
  • Visit to the Cathedral of the Assumption (Dormition Cathedral): built by Prince Andrei Bogolyubsky, who is buried here, in Vladimir’s former kremlin. It was intended to be the center of the Russian Church, and its paintings are among the finest in all of Russian art. After the original frescoes on its walls were destroyed by the Mongols in 1238, new ones were painted by the grand master Andrei Rublev in 1408, with a baroque iconostasis added in 1774. It is considered to be one of the most important monuments in Russia and inspired numerous churches and cathedrals throughout the whole country, primarily its namesake located in the Moscow Kremlin.
  • Visit to the Cathedral of Saint Demetrius: Built in 1194 as a royal church for Prince Vsevolod III, its biggest draws are the stone carvings on its façade dedicated to King David, Alexander the Great, and Samson; and the 12th century frescoes lining its interior and depicting scenes from the Last Judgment.
  • Drive back to Moscow

Hotel in Moscow:  

  • 3* Ibis, Arbat or similar
  • 4* Marriott Tverskaya, Holiday Inn Lesnaya, or similar

Day 6

Departure from Moscow

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Transfer to the airport

 

Options after the trip

Important! The itinerary is a PRELIMINARY one and it can be customized according to your request: you can add new stop over cities, choose trains, starting dates and stop's duration or connect it with your other journeys in Russia, North Korea, China, or Mongolia.